NEW YORK — The contract for clerks and other workers at the New York stock Exchange expired Sunday, and evening talks were set in a bid to avert a strike. Exchange officials said markets would be open today, regardless.
"The meeting tonight is the first time that the two full bargaining committees have met since Friday night" when the union presented a package of proposals, said Richard Torrenzano, a vice president at the stock exchange on Sunday. "There have been no developments over the weekend," he added.
The official's comments came hours after the midnight expiration of the collective bargaining agreement with the 950 members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 153.
The union represents secretaries, clerks and other support personnel at the exchange, its subsidiary, the New York Futures Exchange, and the Securities Industry Automation Corp.
Union officials could not be reached for comment.
The last time the union's New York Stock Exchange contract expired, its members continued to work without a contract for more than six months, Torrenzano said.
But the exchange has prepared a series of plans in the event that tentative agreement is not reached and the workers strike.
"We are going to be open Monday morning, and the exchange will function normally regardless of any action by the union," Torrenzano said. "We have a number of contingencies for unusual occurrences such as snowstorms," he said.
He declined to say whether management personnel would replace the strikers or if outside workers would be hired.
The exchange reopens today for trading amid a tidal wave of frenzied stock trading that began with the "black Monday" market crash of Oct. 19. More than 3.5 billion shares have been traded in those two weeks.
Despite this past week's strong finish, the value of stocks in the market remains $856 billion below its peak of Aug. 25, as measured by Wilshire Associates, while the Dow is down nearly 730 points, or 27%, from its late-August high.
The exchange was open for three hours of transaction mop-up work Saturday morning, but, unlike last weekend, the doors were shut on Sunday. The union workers, while providing support services to traders, have not been engaged directly in the massive task of double-checking trades made last week.
The issues in the dispute have not been disclosed.
The exchange announced on Friday that it would extend its shortened trading days through next week to allow its employees and member firms to keep up with the unprecedented trading volume.
The abbreviated schedule is "unrelated" to the contract dispute, Torrenzano said.
Gradually Lengthening Hours
The NYSE, the American Stock Exchange and the over-the-counter market each ended trading at 2 p.m. EST daily last week, but plan to remain open until 2:30 p.m. today through Wednesday and until 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
The NYSE and other exchanges probably will not resume their regular hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Nov. 9.
Chicago's major futures and options exchanges said they would follow the NYSE in phasing in normal hours for trading securities based on the stock market, such as stock index futures and stock options.